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* Posts by ThomH

1912 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

iPhone 5: skinny li'l fella with better display, camera, software

ThomH
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Re: Ha...

"I once did a hundred takes and still couldn't say the word 'incorrigible.' Great! NOW I get it! Siri, bring Jessica Tandy back to life." ?

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ThomH
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Re: Acronyms FFS

You've never heard anyone exclaim 'GPRS Creepers!'?

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ThomH
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Re: Progress?

In common with most other phones, it's got a browser and maps and a decent camera. So if you get lost walking somewhere, you can find out where you are. If you're sat on the bus then you can check out BBC News or whatever. If you see something interesting you can get a shot as good as a point-and-shoot.

More specialised tasks can also be achieved: if you're frugal you can scan the barcodes of products you're looking at in shops and find out how much they'd cost from Amazon or wherever. If you own a large amount of music you can put it into one of the online lockers and then your phone becomes an MP3 player with ridiculous storage. Subject to your OS and service provider you can use your phone as a portable hotspot for your computer.

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ThomH
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I think that, at best, they stuck with the old screen size for too long. It was in the top tier back in 2007 so 'always' is stretching things a little. Making more of the surface area glass than just the front always seemed a bit stupid though — if I accidentally apply excessive force to my device I'd much rather have a dent at the point of impact than a shatter across the entire face. As for the 3:2 aspect ratio? It's the same as 35mm film and closer to the golden rectangle than 16:9 but I guess moving to the industry standard buys some advantages, and surely many more people are watching movies than looking at digitised 35mm images.

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Google sneaks in back door, slips YouTube onto iPhone 5

ThomH
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Re: "Apple has released Google's own YouTube app..." (@JeffyPooh)

Indeed — Apple's assertion that the licence to include YouTube has merely run out sound likely to me. It's a valuable brand and I can't think of any reason why Google wouldn't want to take back the reigns. I really don't think there's been any shenanigans here from either side.

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Microsoft to comply with Brussels over browser choice gaffe

ThomH
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@Joe 48

The various agencies have to investigate and find a monopoly abuse. In this case Microsoft went too far to cut Netscape out of the market. One of the things they did to achieve that was the bundling.

So Microsoft used its dominant position in one market (home computers) to distort competition in another (Internet browsers). That's the definition of anti-competitive behaviour. The idea is to prevent a company that's doing well in one market from being able to obtain control of another artificially. Control over a market isn't in itself punishable but the law intends to allow natural market forces to operate.

So there's the fact that when Microsoft acted the market for home computers and the market for internet browsers were considered to be separate. People were paying for Netscape when the behaviour began so that's not entirely unreasonable, though it's a little peculiar to think about now.

There's also the fact that Microsoft used the one monopoly to obtain the other. Were history radically different such that the iPhone ended up with 100% market share then the browser policy still might not be a problem — the product was launched with the explicit feature that third-party browsers (or, at the time, any third-party apps) weren't permitted. That's still the case. So at no point would Apple have used the one monopoly to obtain the other, rather consumers would have judged that the limitation was not a troubling impediment.

As for notepad, paint, etc, they don't matter either because they've always been inherent parts of Windows and/or because they would be considered a natural part of the desktop.

Putting the legal abstractions aside: at no point was there some other company producing far and away the most popular examples of something like notepad or like paint that Microsoft brushed aside through brute force of its desktop position. Conversely there was such a browser manufacturer. Bundling was only one part of what Microsoft were found to have done but it was something the court could realistically attempt to remedy with its existing powers.

The point is to protect the markets and allow consumers to use their free will so that if there is a single dominant player then it gets there on merit. The system's imperfect but all justice systems are and the stink of the various agencies acting against Microsoft is part of what gave Firefox a push.

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ThomH
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Re: I still don't get why this only appies to MS (@various)

The rules are in place to prevent distortion of the market that harms the consumer.

Apple are not in a position to distort the market so as to harm the consumer. Microsoft were. That's not just a legal technicality — it happened in real life. Microsoft used its desktop monopoly to kill Netscape. Once Netscape was dead it said 'Oh, IE6, that's good enough isn't it?' and more or less walked away. That left us with IE6 for five full years; it wasn't really standards compliant where it tried to be and it included deliberately proprietary technologies but there was no competition. Supporting IE6 for all that time was a significant cost to the industry. Supporting IE6 is still a significant cost for some businesses. So Microsoft very visibly distorted the market. In doing so it harmed the consumer.

Microsoft is hence required to include a browser selection screen to reduce its ability to leverage its desktop share to distort the market for browsers and to create a more competitive market. The more competitive market benefits the consumer.

Conversely, Apple has never distorted the market. If it were to release a barely compliant browser with proprietary standards then people would simply ignore that browser and possibly that device. It doesn't have a hegemony such as to be able to dictate standards for web pages, and it never will.

To be fair to Microsoft, the company has jumped quite enthusiastically aboard the standards train now and I can see no reason to believe they'd repeat the errors of the 1990s. Having a proper, standards-compliant browser engine gives them the target portability they need to compete as the set of target devices becomes more complicated than 'Intel, on the desktop'.

(aside: don't believe Opera's hype; they used people's anti-Apple sentiment as a cheap marketing foil. Including a Javascript engine is clearly contrary to the terms and conditions both before and after Opera's submission. Nothing Opera Mini does is contrary to the terms, either at the time or now. At no point was Opera Mini or any other app of its ilk rejected. Opera Mini is just one of a multitude of proxy browsers available for iOS — most of the rest dealing with Flash rendering — and none of the others have had to kick up a fuss to get approved)

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Viewsonic 22in Android 'tablet' hands-on review

ThomH
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I think it's just a small step beyond the normal connected TV concept. Instead of getting just YouTube, iPlayer and whatever else the manufacturer signed up and included you get Android as the standard base on which to install any media access software you want — whether the media is the traditional video and audio or something like your word processor in the cloud.

Or if you prefer it's like any TV with a browser but plus whatever the same advantages phones get from supporting apps as well as just the browser.

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Amazon: Pay more for Kindle Fire, smoke ads from slabs

ThomH
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Re: Good

In defence of the original poster, I took his post more in the sense of 'I wish more manufacturers had a non-crapware option' rather than being specifically about Android or about advertising, since that seems to be an Amazon-specific problem.

People like you and I may know that the first thing to do upon purchase of a new PC is to uninstall the 30-day Norton trials, vendor-specific browser extensions, etc, but if I could pay £15 to move responsibility for that task for people like my parents from me to the manufacturer then I'd do so.

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Why is the iPhone so successful? 'Cause people love 'em

ThomH
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Re: Many people wear their ignorance as a badge of honor

There's as much evidence for that statement as there is for this: the pointlessly angry and the clueless typically dislike Apple products as they mistakenly believe that doing so is a status symbol rather than a totem of their lack of intellect. They need to get a life and buy a clue.

In reality both statements are false.

Yuppies are as likely to buy Androids as iPhones because they can waste their money upgrading to the new flagship every few months rather than every year. Contrast with normal consumers who probably upgrade every couple of years or so, whenever their contracts make it economically sensible to do so.

The clueless are equally likely to like and dislike everything because they pick at random.

The pointlessly angry just want an excuse to shout; they'll dislike everything that comes along.

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ThomH
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Either materials science doesn't exist or you have a point.

I'm one of those people that has dropped an iPhone down the side of a boulder (albeit only a couple of metres; being no great athlete I was merely scrambling) without any ill effects. I seriously expected the back to be smashed, or at least scratched, since it's glass and I'd dropped it onto rock.

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South Korea probes 'mobe patent bully-boy' Samsung

ThomH
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Re: Once upon a time..

That's an inaccurate summary — Apple believes it has paid the Samsung fees because it merely buys in chips that incorporate Samsung's technologies and the relevant fees have already been paid. So Intel builds the baseband chips and pays the fees, then sells the chips to Apple. Samsung says 'that incorporates our technology, you have to pay', to which Apple replies 'Intel paid you, we paid Intel'. Apple has never attempted to argue that it shouldn't have to pay, only that it has already paid. It's an extension of same the reason that you and I don't have to pay Samsung for using its patented technologies.

See e.g. http://www.theverge.com/2012/8/15/3242099/intel-caught-middle-baseband-apple-samsung-trial

Whether Apple's defence stands up is immaterial to the point I'm making, which is simply that you're misrepresenting Apple's position on Samsung's patents. Everything from your third paragraph is inaccurate.

I expect to be voted down because Apple are almost impossible to endorse on moral or emotional grounds but I think those at least are the correct facts.

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Apple confirms 'surprise' September 12 event

ThomH
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@Phillip Lewis

That's some good ad hominem. Imagine I put some swear words here if it helps bring things down to your level of conversation.

I said there are no new ideas in phones and nothing foreseeable coming. I'm also willing to say that there are no people on the street outside my window and none foreseeably coming. Things can plateau.

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ThomH
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Re: There is no iPad Mini being mass produced right now.

Apple tends to chase newly emerging markets, such as MP3 players or web-enabled phones, rather than inventing new categories.

I'd therefore argue that the 7" tablet market's small share at present makes it a target Apple would chase, though it'll be more of a 5% Mac-style share than a 25% iPhone-style or 75% iPod-style share if a product doesn't become available soon.

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ThomH
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Can you provide any examples?

Usually what happens is Apple alleges to have revolutionised something by including it on the phone despite it hardly being a new idea. FaceTime is a good example. Basically nobody said 'that's amazing, Apple has invented video chat!' but quite a few people said 'it'll be interesting to try', which basically means they're reserving judgment to anyone not addled with confirmation bias.

Presumably you'll be happier with the usual 'OMG! All Apple have done is made the processor faster and improved the display! This is a rip off of the IBM XT!' crowd?

Here's a spoiler: there are no new ideas in phones. The iPhone 5 isn't going to contain any new ideas. All the relevant numbers will be a little higher and that's it. The same goes for every other phone that'll be released this year or for the foreseeable future.

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Mozilla dumps iOS, pulls Firefox Home from iTunes Store

ThomH
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Re: Pretty sure....

Opera is no better than Apple and if you're against smug hyperbole you should dislike both. Remember June the 16th, 2009? You know, the day that Opera — per the heavily trailed viral advertising — reinvented the web?

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Valve reiterates games hardware gambit

ThomH
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Doesn't the wiimote count as innovation?

I appreciate that, a few notable examples aside, the types of game the console has attracted are unlikely to be much of an attraction for Steam's audience but the pointer plus nunchuck is preferred to mouse plus keyboard for some — you get the quick relative pointing capacity of a mouse but because you're actually pointing it at a screen it's one less abstraction from the game.

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ThomH
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Model M junkies universally agree: over time they've managed to break the keyboard by taking the tactile feedback out of it. Though that's hardly what the Steam guys are talking about.

As someone who almost never plays games I'd be quite annoyed if they optimised my keyboard or mouse/trackpad for that.

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Sharp's slim screen factory 'flogged to death' by Apple

ThomH
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Even the 12th is a rumour, isn't it? So this could go on a lot longer than that.

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Ghostbusters

ThomH
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Re: Just when you thought it was safe to make a cup of tea....

It won't have been on the Spectrum; the C64 had specialised tape hardware that generated interrupts to signify incoming data. So the CPU sat there mostly idle, waiting to be alerted to input. The Spectrum essentially just had a 1-bit analogue-to-digial converter, so to load data the CPU ran a continuous polling loop, incrementing internal counters for timing. So if you want to spend CPU time on anything other than just watching the tape, you have to engineer suitable opportunities into your data stream, which means lowering the loading speed. So Spectrum games usually just left a static screen up and almost never went beyond a ticking counter. You could do a full game but then you'd need to ensure incoming tape data was really very slow indeed.

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Lexmark dumps inkjet arm, sacks 1,700

ThomH
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Re: Betrayed by your management

More than that, one suspects the inkjets were dragging down the brand. Would you spend a proper amount of money on a laser printer from that company primarily known for all-but-disposable £30 giveaway inkjets, or would you try to pick something more psychologically trustworthy?

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Office 2013 to offer one-off apps on demand

ThomH
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Putting the subscription and portability questions aside, it's like offering web apps but with full desktop app functionality. You go to the web site, log in and then you're using Microsoft Word. So, before applying caveats, it's desirable because it means that you're saved the chore of installation and your access to the apps goes everywhere you do. For a large number of people the web is the main interface to computers.

That being said, it's not a service for me. I don't want to pay a subscription when there are alternatives that I can own outright for less money and my desire to tie myself to Windows is even less than when the desktop was all there was.

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Want a Windows 8 Start Button? Open source to the rescue!

ThomH
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Re: Mouse travel

The Mac menubar's positioning isn't really a large factor in usability to be honest. As pointed out, it being at the top makes it effectively infinitely tall for hitting with a cursor so that's good, but it always sits at the top of whichever screen you nominate as your main one so getting to it can be a real task, which is bad.

There's only one, which makes more compact, which is good. But that means that it's modal, which is bad.

From a subjective point of view, neither of the goods or the bads outweighs the other.

In practice I think it's even less of an issue because people that use computers a lot tend to use keyboard shortcuts anyway. Besides the task specific command+s for save/etc, the best Mac one for the menubar is command+shift+forward slash. That opens the search box in the 'help' pull down, so then you just type the name of the menu bar command you want (or some section of it) and hit enter as a sort of menubar-specific take on quick launchers.

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Ten Androids for under 100 quid

ThomH
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Re: T-mobile Vivacity

If I dare venture a quite separate opinion then Apple hasn't come knocking because neither ZTE nor Orange are in the Apple supply chain. The lawsuits against Samsung are probably as much a negotiating pawn in next year's parts order as anything else.

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Beck's open-source challenge to freetards: play it yourself!

ThomH
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Re: Dear Mr Beck

They say Lady Gaga et al are inspired by the 80s — I guess Beck just misunderstood?

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Samsung: 'You want $2.5bn? WRONG, Apple, you OWE us $420m!'

ThomH
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Re: Runaway jury? (@ShadowedOne)

The converse argument runs that removing juries in 'complicated' cases (this, serious fraud, etc) would be a thin end of the wedge. Before you know it you've got one case where a defendant unfairly gets off, say, a serious assault, so a tabloid contorts a policeman into saying that the jury obviously didn't understand the evidence and a populist politician decides to withdraw juries for assault. And it never ends. Better that we let huge multinationals suffer the caprice of a jury than that we endanger the principle of trial before jury.

You also don't generally want experts in a jury because they tend to second guess the evidence and to ignore the law. Same reason that those with legal qualifications are usually vetoed almost immediately in countries where the advocates get a say. Juries are meant to decide simple issues of fact — is Company A's product similar to Company B's in specified ways — while the judge does issues of law — is such similarity, if found, infringing per intellectual property law and the patents cited?

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Fujifilm X-Pro1 16Mp compact system camera review

ThomH
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Do looks really matter? It has a feel quite unlike every other interchangeable lens camera on the market — despite the focussing issues there's something timeless to it. The results are excellent too. I guess the only downside is that the unique sensor array has led to poor third-party software support so far. Lightroom now has some support but the conversion leaves a lot to be desired versus the in-camera JPEG writer. Also the bundled software, SilkyPix, is quite awful from a usability point of view.

Summary: I love mine to pieces, though post-processing options are currently limited.

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Assange granted asylum by Ecuador after US refused to rule out charges

ThomH
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From what I can make out, the UK reminded Ecuador of the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987. In summary, embassies have their status only while the secretary of state recognises them as such, and diplomatic premises need to be used exclusively for diplomatic purposes. The secretary can unilaterally cease to recognise them as such if he thinks international law would allow, it and is supposed to take some prescribed factors into account, including safety to the public.

The embassy isn't foreign soil or anything like that, regardless of popular opinion.

In this case, based entirely on probably uninformed speculation, I guess the argument goes that the embassy has a man who is wanted for assault and contempt of court and — allowing for the fact that he doesn't have any sort of immunity — is planning surreptitiously to transport him through British territory, itself a crime. So the secretary of state could have grounds to conclude that the Ecuadorian embassy is being used as a property in which to plan the commission of crime rather than for diplomatic purposes and revoke its status. After that the police are obviously free to enter.

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Judge begs Apple, Samsung to get a room, or trial will end in tears

ThomH
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Re: Sounds like she thinks they're going to go against Apple

I'd vote jaduncan up twice if I could — the tin-foil hat accusations sound quite desperate.

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New MPEG format paves the way for UHDTV

ThomH
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Re: First use will be in computing

If I dare cite that particular company, the 15" MacBook Pro is already available with a 2880x1800 pixel resolution. So it's safe to assume we'll be at 4k resolution with, say, 30" monitors, within a year or two.

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ThomH
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Re: Rights and Licenses

It'll be commercially licensed, just like all the preceding MPEG standards such as MPEG-2 as on DVDs and MP3. Where you stand on that depends on where you stand on intellectual property, I guess.

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Android spanks Apple iOS in sales as fanbois hold out for iPhone 5

ThomH
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Re: the iPhone has definitely lost the "must-have" factor it used to have (@Shagbag)

The iPad 3 is an iPad 2 with a higher resolution screen, faster processors and a better camera. If you're going to define that as not being a sufficient improvement then you should probably stop paying attention to the industry as it's basically complete. I still don't believe anyone uses cameras on tablets as anything other than a last resort but the screen improvement was significant.

You're right about the 4S though — though it had a faster processor and a better camera, the experience of using it is essentially identical to the 4.

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BeBook outs Kindle-beating e-book reader

ThomH
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Re: Why is there never one for work?

The Kindle DX is 9.7" but inexplicably available only in the US. The lack of competition also seems to have allowed it to retain a disproportionate price tag.

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Hello nasty, don't use my music: Deceased Beastie Boy to admen

ThomH
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Re: Anyone know

Reputedly, being against the use of their music in advertising contributed to the Beasties' big break; suing British Airways for the unauthorised use of their first EP (and insisting that the advertising stop rather than that they be cut in) gave them just about their only pre-fame income, working up to the first album.

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Apple, Samsung whip out mobe sales in patent trial showdown

ThomH
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I've come around to the opinion that Apple's game plan here isn't to obtain a few extra millions from patent infringement rulings but rather to try to build a narrative that Samsung aren't at the leading edge. The use of a legal route to push that message is neither here nor there.

I'm optimistic that most of the real world has spotted that mobile phones are essentially stagnant and are picking based on the sort of preferences you state, and therefore that this whole story is just an annoying sideshow.

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Apple Mountain Lion file points to Mac Pro update

ThomH
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Re: No Optical Drive

I have my fingers crossed that if this rumour amounts to anything at all then it just means no disc media drive by default, so a safe assumption that quite a few people (as a proportion, though this is hte Mac Pro we're talking about) won't have one.

There are quite a lot of people that are happy not to have one but it would be ridiculous to tell big-box buying professionals that they can use an external device or nothing.

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Oooh-la-la! 'iPhone 5' bares all, strokes tiny nano-SIM in pics

ThomH
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That sums up the entire phone industry.

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ThomH
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Re: okay...

Is there any point engaging with Obviously!? Let's find out...

Users are free to change their wallpaper. The poster appears to be suggesting that iOS is outdated because third-party apps can't change it for you. It sounds a bit desperate when put like that, but I think probably he was alluding to the live wallpaper that Android gained in 2.<something> rather than suggesting a huge pent-up need for alternative methods to select wallpaper.

You therefore are allowed to change wallpaper and your device needn't look like everybody else's in that respect.

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Apple: Samsung was in 'crisis' over our iPhone awesomeness

ThomH
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Re: truthfully

I give a fruit.

Specifically, I'm going to be annoyed if companies are able to obtain ownership of fairly common ideas just by virtue of good execution. Apple has accrued a huge financial advantage for being first to market with a really usable touchscreen web device and that's enough — sure they did a lot of hard work but they've been rewarded for it.

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Amazon: e-book purchases push past paper

ThomH
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It means I'm reading more in the very literal sense; as the sort of person that tended to read about half a book and then wander off even when that meant building up a big pile of them, my Kindle has facilitated an even more scattergun approach.

I doubt I'm reading more words but I am definitely dipping into more books.

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Apple extends tablet market lead

ThomH
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Re: The Times They Are A Changin

While the Q3 should show a swing away from Apple, if they show the Nexus with almost four times the share of the iPad then I'll personally buy you twenty of them, and a luxury mansion to house them in.

The Nexus 7 is a fantastic product that'll do very well but markets just don't shift that quickly.

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ThomH
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Re: Brand Names?

On the contrary, the brand of the Nexus 7 is 'Nexus'. Google have invested a lot of time and energy in building up that brand. 'Android' is another brand.

The concept of bang per buck isn't necessarily misplaced but it's safer to assume it's being misused whenever you see it in forums like these. Consumers don't care about megahertz or gigabytes; the Nexus 7 is doing well because it's a brand people trust and because the megahertz/gigabytes gang have spent the last three years producing predictably awful tablets, creating pent up demand for an Android product that isn't rubbish.

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Apple disappoints at first Black Hat briefing

ThomH
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Re: What did they expect?

Quite the contrary; one of the cardinal rules of the security industry is that security by obscurity doesn't work.

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Apple seeks whopping $2.525bn Samsung patent payout

ThomH
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Re: Any Trekkies here?

You're absolutely right, I think. Apple seems to think it deserves legal dominance because it was the first really to succeed with that category of device; unfortunately the point that it's both an obvious form factor and one that has been demonstrated many times before, at least in fiction, seems to be lost on them.

Meanwhile the wrangling just promotes Samsung's competition to the front page of a whole bunch of outlets that quite possibly would never otherwise have mentioned it, and allows Samsung to run adverts along the lines of their Australian 'the tablet Apple tried to stop' efforts. So it's not just bad use of the law, it's bad business.

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Buzz: iPhone 5 arrives September 21, demand 'unprecedented'

ThomH
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Re: Hype

Kudos for admitting your bias, and you're quite right about the pointlessness of unattributed quotes, but Apple's Chinese suppliers also supply all of the major Android manufacturers. The one other company you mention is also notable for having been found guilty of leading a price-fixing cartel as recently as 2010 so I'm not willing to say either is better than the other from an ethical point of view.

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Samsung flogs 10 million Galaxy S IIIs in 7 weeks

ThomH
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Re: Not bad... (@JDX)

Given that Android to iOS marketshare is about 5:3 (source: http://www.engadget.com/2012/07/02/comscore-may-2012-smartphone/), that's a cheerleading victory for Android amongst The Register's ranks. Apply your own prejudice to decide to what extent, if any, Android users skew towards the technical versus Android users being more vocal versus Apple users being more vocal but Android users really skewing very much indeed towards the technical.

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ThomH
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Re: Not bad...

If anyone thinks specifications other than those that can be perceived directly like screen size sell phones then they're living in a fantasy world. Customer satisfaction is the main factor, both by word of mouth and because salespeople understand that their commission is safer if they push a phone with a low return rate. Hence Samsung are rightly being rewarded for launching the latest in a pretty decent series of phones.

Clock rates, core counts, memory sizes, etc, mean basically nothing unless and until they actually become detrimental to the user experience.

For evidence of this from the other direction, see any of the postmortems on Windows Phone 7. No-one has ever said 'it would have succeeded except that customers are no longer willing to buy single core phones' and of the did they'd be laughed at.

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Google Nexus 7 shipping cock-up enrages fandroids

ThomH
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I don't think they love any of these corporations so just pragmatically buy whichever device they're most attracted to, completely blind to the troll wars that go on amongst certain users in forums like this. I'll wager that 99% of people that pick up a Nexus 7 from, say, the shelves of Tesco, will at no point have a conscious thought about the ethics of Google versus those of Apple or Microsoft.

The brand will make them confident the device is going to work well and the rest of the decision will just be features (as in, actual tangible ones, like 'surfs the web', 'plays Angry Birds', 'can be plugged into the TV', not the child-like 'OMG! It's got a triple-core 987Mhz GPU!') versus price.

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More Steve Jobs iPad mini attacks from beyond the grave

ThomH
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Re: Perhaps not 7"...

When two devices are the same aspect ratio you can just divide the one diagonal by the other and square what you get — that makes 65.49% in my book.

Doing it all at length, a 7" 16:9 screen has a width of about 15.5cm and a height of 8.7cm. Surface area is about 135 square centimetres.

A 9.7" 4:3 screen has a width of about 19.7cm and a height of about 14.8cm. So surface area is about 291.6 square centimetres.

A 7.85" 4:3 screen is approximately 16cm by 12cm, for a surface area close to 192 square centimetres.

So the 7" is about 46% as large as the 9.7" and 70% as large as the 7.85". The 7.85" is about 42% larger than the 7" and almost 66% as large as the 9.7". The 9.7" is about 117% larger than the 7" and 52% larger than the 7.85".

So that no doubt clears everything up!

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Sleek new Macs violate fanbois' Retinas with display garbage

ThomH
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Re: What are you on?

To my great disservice, I've hired developers like that in the past...

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